India and China are on track to do better on their respective pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Accord, so much so that they may be able to compensate globally for the imminent failure of the US to deliver because of President Donald Trump’s rollback of mitigation measures initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.
A new analysis by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) released on Monday said that while it’s “positive developments” on the use of coal by the two Asian giants, that will help them “overachieve” their Paris Accord targets, , America will miss its targets because of Trump’s “highly adverse rollback”.
India and China will cause a reduction by 2 to 3 GtCO2 (gigatonnes of CO2 emission) in 2030 compared to projections made just last year, according to the analysis,, which significantly outweighs the impact of the Trump administration’s proposed rollbacks in the US of around 0.4 GtCO2 in 2030.
Under the Paris agreement, China promised to peak its emissions by 2030 and increase use of non-fossil fuel by up to 20%, while India said it would increase its non-fossil fuel energy share to least 40% by 2030. And they are both on their way.
“Global leadership on climate is changing, with positive developments on coal use in China and India likely to reduce projected global carbon emissions by roughly two to three billion tonnes by 2030 compared to our estimate last year,” said CAT, a joint effort by the NewClimate Institute, Climate Analytics and Ecofys.
“Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping—or even slowing—coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle, as coal-fired power plants were thought by many to be necessary to satisfy the energy demands of these countries,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics. “Recent observations show they are now on the way toward overcoming this challenge.”
The optimism about India stems from its admission that it may not need the coal-fired power plants it had planned to meet the growing energy demand of the country after all, and its new policy of moving towards renewable sources.
If the Draft Energy Plan — the new policy announced in December 2016 —was implemented, CAT analysis said, “we estimate that emissions in 2030 in India would be around 1.0 GtCO2e (gigatonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide — a simplified way to put emissions of various GHGs) lower than our estimate of currently implemented policies.”
China’s movement away from coal to non-fossil fuels is the reason why it was expected to do better than expected.
The US, on the other hand, was going in the other direction. Trump said he will announce in a few days whether or not he will pull out of the Paris Accord as he had promised on the campaign. But he has already ordered the rollback of elements of Obama’s Clean Power Plan. “The highly adverse rollbacks of US climate policies by the Trump Administration, if fully implemented and not compensated by other actors, are projected to flatten US emissions instead of continuing on a downward trend,” said Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute.